Iran. That’s the news story which poor Mr Blair is trying to spin to the panel – but they don’t pick up on his hints. It would have all been all right in Basra – he’d like to say – if it hadn’t been for those pesky Iranians. As Prime Minister, if he blamed Iran in public then that would have had implications. He’d have had to follow up on it. But now he wants to tell us, or he would if those chaps on the panel would kindly probe him on it.
When he was talking to Baroness Prashar he tried to start: “If what you’d ended up having was an indigenous violence or insurgency, or criminality and looting and so on…” She wasn’t interested “We’ll come to that later…” and handed over to Chilcot. But Blair insisted:
“We could have handled the situation if that had been the problem. It was the introduction of the external elements of Al Qaeda and Iran that really caused this mission very nearly to fail, but fortunately at the end it didn’t. Those are the same forces that we are facing in Afghanistan and right round the region.”
Lets wait for him to put the bellows under this Iran line after the break.
UPDATE: More Iran stuff for tomorrow’s newspapers:
“I also sent Jack [Straw] to talk to the Iranians. We tried very hard to reach out, make an agreement with them. Give them a strong indication that the Americans were not there, having done Iraq, to move to Iran. One of the most disappointing, but most telling aspects to that is that the Iranians were a major destabilising factor in this – and quite deliberately.”